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Supreme Court Referee Hears Challenge On Taxes For Oil and Gas Drilling

Retired Oklahoma City attorney Jerry Fent.
Brent Fuchs/Journal Record

A state Supreme Court referee heard a lawsuit Tuesday over a recently signed bill that was written to lower taxes for oil and gas drilling. The outcome of the constitutional challenge could go well beyond Oklahoma’s oil field.

Oklahoma City attorney and legislative watchdog Jerry Fent filed the lawsuit in June.

He argues the oil and gas tax bill is invalid because the Legislature ignored extra procedural burdens voters in the ‘90s placed on “revenue bills.” 

Speaking after the hearing, Fent said a broad ruling from justices could also impact legislation enacted years ago.

“Since 1992 there were 13 different revenue bills, then a person could file a class action and go back to those and have the money returned," Fent says.

Opposing the lawsuit and representing the State of Oklahoma, Solicitor General Patrick Wyrick argued the tax measure isn’t a “revenue bill,” rather, he said, it is an extension of an economic “incentive” written to lower taxes.

Joe was a founding reporter for StateImpact Oklahoma (2011-2019) covering the intersection of economic policy, energy and environment, and the residents of the state. He previously served as Managing Editor of Urban Tulsa Weekly, as the Arts & Entertainment Editor at Oklahoma Gazette and worked as a Staff Writer for The Oklahoman. Joe was a weekly arts and entertainment correspondent for KGOU from 2007-2010. He grew up in Bartlesville, Okla. and studied journalism at the University of Central Oklahoma.
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